Can Developing E-book Markets Support “Lower-Than-Print” Pricing?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

When you’re already talking about a $1 to $1.50 for a print book, can you go any lower for digital?

By Edward Nawotka

e-book and print books

Today’s feature story offers an overview of the developing digital publishing and e-book market in India. As the article notes, lower print production costs in India has meant India long maintained affordable prices for print books: “An average paperback is usually priced in the range of $4–7, while a hardcover is around $11, as against £14 ($23) in the UK. Textbooks are priced as low as $1 to $1.50.”

But pricing models for e-books are yet to be worked out. For now, many publishers have opted to price e-books on par with print, rather than offer them at a discount as is typically done in the U.S. and U.K., for example. Whether Indian readers, influenced by the debates in USA and UK for lowering of prices of e-books to less than print editions, will accept parity in price of the two editions is uncertain.

Assuming production costs for e-books are on par with those of print books (something that continues to be debated in developed e-book markets), can countries like India — which are still investing in developing digital marketplaces and where prices are already very low — hope to offer discounts on e-books? And should they? When you’re talking about a $1 to $1.50 textbooks, going any lower seems all but impossible. Pricing — and the price of devices — is likely to remain the greatest obstacle to mass digital adoption in these growth markets.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.